"Come--and say hello to her," Grandpa G. urged. We walked into his neat bedroom, crowded with the condensed treasures of two people's lives. And in the far corner, on a bed right next to a light-filled window, lay Grandma G. Although we're not actually related at all, they are the grandparents of close friends, and have thus become grandparents by proxy.
I tried to rouse her as Grandpa G. wished--I rubbed her shoulder and spoke to her, first softly, and then briskly. And to my surprise, she wouldn't wake. Only the warmth of her skin and her slow, shallow breathing assured me that she was alive. Only two weeks ago, she had been up and in her wheelchair--but even then, the vacant blue eyes had told how much Alzheimer's had robbed from her. Only one month ago, she had actually responded to my greeting with an intelligible question--and Grandpa G. and I had looked at each other in awe, feeling that a small miracle had occurred.
Now, here we were, unable to even bring her to consciousness; Grandpa G. rubbing her feet and speaking loudly to her about her visitor, and urging me to continue to try to wake her. Finally, I suggested music.
"Oh--can you bring it in here?" Grandpa G. asked eagerly. I consented, and while I got out my violin, I mentally chose the song I would play.
"Can you play Brahms?" he asked, interrupting my thoughts.
"Uh, Brahms? Well, uh..." I hesitated, and he began to hum--the Brahms' Lullaby. To my shock, I couldn't remember if I had ever actually played the piece before, but I put up my violin, chose the key, and began, confident that my ear would guide me. Grandpa G. joined in, singing the German lyrics in his aged but still rich, deep voice.
There we were--an old, old gentleman with pain in his body, sorrow in his heart, and the wisdom of a lifetime of incredible experiences in his past, singing with me--a lively, outspoken girl with dreams as high as Mt. Rainier, and many, many things to learn. We played and sang this old lullaby, serenading an elegant, godly woman in the twilight of her life. And the love in her husband's eyes as he sang to her, and the sorrow in the room as she never once stirred, and the awe I felt to participate in such a moment--these are things I will never forget.
I only saw Grandma G. once more before her spirit left her broken body and went to be with her Lord and Saviour. As difficult as her death is for her family and friends, there is also rejoicing, because she is no longer a tortured prisoner of her own body--she is basking in the presence of God, free of pain and sorrow.
"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'
'O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?'
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." I Corinthians 15:51-58
Photo courtesy of Mr TGT
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.